A Guide To Couponing

By on December 17, 2012
Coupons

Coupons have captivated consumers for decades, and you don’t have to necessarily engage in ‘extreme couponing’ to get considerable savings from the many deals and promotions offered by retailers. All it takes is a bit of planning and organization to start saving with coupons in no time; get started today with our Guide to Couponing!

The Basics

• Coupons can’t be used more than once. You cannot buy five cans of soup and scan a $2 off a can of soup coupon five times.

• Coupons can only be used for the described item.

Couponing Infographic

• Only one coupon is allowed per item. If you have two $3 off toothpaste coupons, you may purchase two toothpastes to use both coupons. Coupons usually say “one coupon per purchase,” meaning that two coupons cannot be used on a single toothpaste.

• Copying coupons is illegal. Avoid infringing the law and search for coupons legally such as in newspaper or magazine flyers.

• Coupons may be used on clearance or sale items. Unless the coupon says otherwise, use your coupon to add the savings on clearance or sale items.

• Expiration dates on coupons can’t be negotiated. Once a coupon expires, toss it away and search for new ones instead.

• Ignore the nice pictures and read the coupon’s printed information. Check the coupon information, as manufacturers tend to place the picture of their most expensive products on coupons.

Statistics and Facts

Couponing has a rich history since consumers have been taking advantage of the extra savings on their regular purchases for over a century. Check out some interesting statistics and facts about couponing:

2010

• 332 billion coupons were distributed on this year alone.

• 3.3 billion coupons were redeemed by shoppers.

• $1.44 was the average savings per coupon used.

• $485 billion was the total value of distributed coupons.

• $3.7 billion was the total savings for consumers.

2011

• $470 billion was the total value of distributed coupons.

• $4.6 billion is the total savings for consumers. This means only 0.98% got redeemed.

• $1.54 was the average savings per coupon used.

• 27% of coupons required multiple purchases.

Miscellaneous statistics

• 9.9 weeks is the average expiration length of coupons.

• 42% of smartphone or tablet users have redeemed a mobile coupon.

• Amongst women, moms are twice as likely to look for coupons online.

• $100 is the estimated savings for an hour of couponing.

Where to Find Coupons?

There are many coupons available free, if you know where to get them. The best ways to get coupons are:

• Newspaper and magazine inserts. Check out local newspaper and popular magazines for regular coupons for popular items.

• In store. Search for coupons on product labels, store shelves, at cashiers, and on the back of receipts.

• Online. Search free coupon sites that provide printable coupons for groceries.

• Junk mail. Top value manufacturer coupons can be found in the usual junk mail, so be sure to check your mail before tossing it away.

• Direct from the manufacturer. Go to manufacturers’ websites, which may provide printable coupons. You may also contact manufacturers directly to ask for coupons.

• Store mailings. Sign up with your local store for frequent shopper cards to find the latest specials and deals.

Organize your Coupons

There are many ways to organize your coupons, but the main thing to do is find the one that best suits you. You can sort your coupons by product, expiration date, or alphabetically. In addition, here are some simple ways to store your coupons:

• Regular household items. Take advantage of what’s lying in your home already to store your coupons like plastic sandwich bags, shoeboxes, or envelopes.

• Binders or index card box. This is a great way to file your coupons in an easily accessible and neat manner.

• Coupon organizing software. There are many websites with cool software tools that allow you to manage all your coupons with ease.

Top Couponing Mistakes

Now that you now the basics about couponing, it’s important to avoid the most common couponing mistakes that plague shoppers. Avoid these five common mistakes to save even more on every trip to the store:

• Not reading the coupon’s fine print or knowing the store policies. This is a common mistake for coupon rookies. Just make sure to check the expiration dates, guidelines, and any other restrictions that a coupon might have.

• Missing ‘stacking’ chances. You can optimize your savings by stacking coupons, meaning that you can use both a manufacturer and a store coupon on a single product.

• Not using coupons for items on sale. If applicable, use your coupons on items on clearance or sales to save big.

• Not checking the specific-size requirements and guidelines. Always buy the right size for the product described on the coupon. If you do not follow the coupon’s guideline, you’ll get no discount at the register.

• Purchasing products that you don’t need just because you had coupons for them. Shop smart and make a budget before you start buying every product that has a coupon. Buy things you need and will actually use.

Leading Couponing Sites

Do you have trouble finding the best couponing sites? Here is a list of the most sought-after couponing websites based on average monthly unique visitors:

1. Groupon

2. WhaleShark Media

3. LivingSocial

4. Coupons, Inc

5. DeedOrGreed

6. DealsPL.US

7. CouponAlert

8. MyPoints

9. BradsDeals

10. FatWallet

Coupon Slang

Know the slang related to couponing to recognize deals or promotions that you might have missed otherwise.

• BOGO = Buy One Get One Free.

• DOUBLE COUPON = Grocery store doubles its value.

• IP = Internet Printable Coupon.

• MIR = Mail In Rebate.

• NED = No Expiration Date.

• OYNO = On Your Next Order.

• PEELIE = A coupon you peel off a package.

• PSA = Prices Starting At.

• Q = Coupon.

• STACKING = Using a store and a manufacturer coupon together on the same item.

• WYB = When You Buy.

Couponing can be a great way to start saving on your usual daily purchases and reach your financial goals. You can save hundreds of dollars per month by knowing how to coupon correctly and adjusting your shopping habits accordingly.

Photo: Cameron Russell

About Sam

Sam Burgoon is the social media and marketing executive for Credit Season. He has a degree in business administration and marketing and has previously worked for companies like Bank of America and Oracle.Connect with Sam on Google+

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